Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Our inheritance: salvation

We're continuing to focus on these verses (below) where Peter breaks out into exuberant praise, and then explains why:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:3-5)
Peter is telling the believers who have been scattered into different lands to praise God for their salvation -- that it comes from God the Father through the work of the Son, Jesus Christ. I'm not sure if this is where some of the preachers that I've listened to get the idea of a three point sermon, but Peter does lay out three ways that our salvation comes to us from God! He tells us that if we keep this in mind, we can praise God no matter what trials we are facing....

Let's dive in!
The first thing that Peter mentions is that we need to remember our salvation comes from God's wonderful mercy.  Our salvation doesn't come from anything within us, nor from anything that we have reality, it comes in spite of us!
We can't earn it.
We can't convince God that we deserve it.
Mercy is just that....unmerited, undeserved favor. God looks upon us with compassion, in spite of our sins, and He loves us.  As far back as in Martin Luther's time, humans cherished the thought that we could atone for sins. That we could acquire eternal salvation. We thought, hey, we're strong, we have free will, we can do good works....
The truth is, we have to let go of those thoughts in order to experience God's mercy. The only thing we deserve in our sinful state, is punishment.
Instead, He shows us mercy.
After all, if our salvation depended on our goodness, it wouldn't be very secure, would it? What if we did something bad? What if we weren't quite as good as was necessary?
Let's explore this idea of our own goodness.....
When the dinosaurs were romping around (grin) and I was in college, the professors sometimes graded "on a curve."  Essentially, they threw out the grading scale for a test, instead saying that wherever most of the students' scores lay would be the average, or C grade. If the bulk of their scores were around 65, that would be a "C" even though ordinarily it was a failing grade. Those who made higher than 65 were in hog heaven, as my grandma used to say, because even if they wouldn't have had a good grade on the old scale, they did have a good grade "on the curve."
All this to say, again, that if being saved depends on being good......what if God doesn't grade on the curve? Or, what if the curve is higher than we thought? We might think we're sitting pretty.
Instead, we are enjoying a moment of false hope!
We do not get into heaven because WE are good. We get into heaven because JESUS was good -- He died and rose again to redeem us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
If we let go of what we think is our own goodness, and ask God for His mercy, then our salvation is as secure as the mercy and faithfulness of God.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God,keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Peter says we can also praise God because He is powerful enough to provide salvation... Check out those verses again.  It says that God "gave us" new birth, and that He "shields us" by His power.  We remember that Jesus spoke about the new birth to Nicodemus, right? (John 3)
Just as we were once born physically, we have to be born spiritually. Now, we didn't have a thing to do with our first birth! And we can't assist in our spiritual birth, either. It's brought about by the life-giving power of God.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)
 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." (John 6:44)
Here again, aren't we glad that our salvation doesn't rely on our will, or on our effort? That would be awfully shaky ground! But it comes from His mighty power to bring us from death to life -- and that makes it a "sure thing."

That "sure thing" is based on the third thing that Peter mentions here: the resurrection of Jesus. In His death, He Who knew no sin bore the sins of all of us. And in His resurrection, He completed our salvation:
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.   (I Corinthians 15:17-20)
Peter and the other disciples were eye-witnesses. Jesus made many appearances to the apostles and the others before He ascended into heaven. Any doubts or gloom that Peter may have had initially were turned into confident assurance!

No matter our trials, no matter how big the problems seem, we can keep praising God because our inheritance, our salvation, comes from God -- not from ourselves!


Austin Towers said...

Thank you once again for the reminder that it is all of Him and not of us. And it is a relief really to know that God doesn't grade on a curve. *smile*

Katie Isabella said...

I knew these truths but it was a wonderful beginning for my morning to read them again.

Cathy said...

It is so wonderful, and so comforting, to know that God is the keeper and founder of our salvation, not ourselves. He is true and constant and faithful, never changing. We are false and inconstant and faithless, always changing. I’d much rather rely on Him than myself.